True Happiness, Career.

When I was a little girl, around the age of 3, we moved into a house that my father built.  He was a successful contractor/engineer from Yale when he and his architect friend, Tasso Katselas, built us an incredible wood and glass architectural in Pennsylvania. It had a cantilevered kitchen, a courtyard in the middle of the house with plants and turtles, a huge walk-in fireplace, large open rooms and lots of glass. I was sad when we left the house. I remember kissing it and saying goodbye. I watched that house come to life in a way that many people do not get to experience.


I think it is the intimacy with that first home that set me on the path I’m on, and it has aided me throughout my career. This may sound funny to you but I still talk to the houses that I help people buy and sell. The minute I walk in, I get a sense of its history and how it was built. My appreciation for the homes I sell helps me find their buyers, through targeted marketing efforts.  I get a feeling for the type of person that would be attracted to the home. Is the house decorated or not? Does the property have good bones? Is the lot spread out and messy, or is it tidy with rows of perfectly manicured hedges? Certain people are going to gravitate towards these different aspects. In my opinion a good salesperson is not the person who can sell ice cubes to an an eskimo, a good salesperson is one who finds the person drinking warm lemonade in the desert and sells them the ice cubes. What I mean to say is that I find pleasure in marrying the right home to the right people, and I think it has served me well.


One of my colleagues, Michael Novotny, now managing Sotheby’s Malibu, once said to me – “I think you will always handle some interesting and unusual properties Christine”. He was right. I find that personality has a large part to play in the types of houses agents represent, me included. You may or may not know this but I moonlight as an actress. While raising my two sons I did mainly commercial acting. I was an actress before I was a real estate agent, so when I started selling real estate I used what skills I already had. I thought: what is a commercial? Short scenarios that subliminally sell a product. I, as an actress, represented the target market who will buy the product. I thought: how can I apply those skills to this real estate career? I started to do my makeup, hair and dress like the personality of the house. If the house I am selling is a rustic cabin, when I go on a showing I will dress more casually in jeans. If the house is a modern architectural maybe I will wear a sleek pants suit or black dress. Every detail serves to accentuate the personality of the home. Homes are purchased with the heart first and justified later. Sell accordingly.


I believe one of the key reasons I became successful is because people trust me. I have always tried to be truthful in all aspects of my career. I learned that it was a necessity from my very first sale. I like working with people who have a commitment to work with me. I have to trust them as well. If I trust them, then they trust me.


I like building relationships with my clients. I am polite but honest with them. I will tell them in a friendly way  “you’re being weird. I will do what you want to do, but I think you’re being a little weird.” Truth and trust are two different things but they are related. I hold loving truth in a higher regard than success.  The main difference between a good agent and a bad agent, in my opinion, is that a bad agent is always looking to get paid on a sale, a good agent is looking out for the client’s best interest. A good agent can be honest in a way that a bad agent can’t. That kind of honesty changes lives for the better in this career. Success comes to me because I work hard and have gained trust. If I sought success at all costs then I might have been willing to overlook the truth for short term gain. I leave the fact of whether or not I’m successful up to God. That frees me to give myself fully and to the work of doing my best.


I did not always feel successful. Only in the past 3 or 4 years have I really considered myself a success. I had  at least 7 years of insecurity before then. In 2016 I sold more homes than any individual Realtor in my area. It shocked me when I learned that statistic.  I didn’t aspire to that status,  I just did the work. The feeling of success came in retrospect for me.  People now recognize me that I don’t know. People call me to represent them because they like how I market other properties or their friends have recommended me.  When I go out to dinner people I don’t know  ask me about the real estate market. All these things add up to my feeling that I have achieved success. I am no longer trying to convince people that I’m a good agent, people are coming to me because they know I am a good agent.


Here are some things I’ve observed over the years. I hope they will help:


Advice to Sellers –


Your house will sell faster when you are truly ready to let it go. Your house is very personal to you, especially if you’ve put some sweat equity into it, and who hasn’t?  Try some meditation to imagine the house as someone else’s house. Bless it, and release it.


Clean it up and get ready to move. Buyers say they can see past everything, but they really can’t.  Plus, if it’s messy, they now want an unduly large discount.


Choose your realtor because you trust them, like them, and know their work.  Don’t necessarily go for the realtor who sets the highest price on your house.  It’s very tempting for realtors to over estimate value so they can capture the listing.  Be smart, and examine how your realtor has come up with the value of your house.


Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – it’s probably not your realtor’s fault if your house is not selling.  If you’ve chosen wisely, then continue to trust your realtor, as long as they are really working hard for you.


When in escrow, read the contract and the disclosures. It’s a lot of paperwork, but it helps to understand it.


Don’t do a cheap remodel in an area where houses go for a high price (like here!). Get some advice from stagers if you want to spruce up.


Advice to Realtors –


Do whatever you do best! Get into action.  Express your talents every day!


If you’re good at math, crunch the numbers.  If you excel in written communication, create email blasts. If you are a good photographer, take photos of houses.


Some of my own skills involve knowing how to deal with people, finding and presenting the best of every house or property, dogged tenacity, and a good work ethic.


It’s pretty important to find a way to be happy!!  Enthusiasm is catching!


Try not to compete with other realtors, it’s a frustrating experience and will create bad feelings.


Don’t get in the way of the sale.  Find solutions, and facilitate agreements!